updated 11/17/2008 5:39:50 PM ET 2008-11-17T22:39:50

Macedonia said Monday it filed a complaint against Greece with an international court after Athens blocked its bid to join NATO because of an ongoing name dispute.

Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki said Macedonia had lodged the complaint at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, the Netherlands. It was not immediately clear when the court would hear the case.

Greece wants Macedonia to change its name, arguing that it implies a territorial claim against its own region of Macedonia. Negotiations between the two countries are deadlocked at the United Nations.

Greece blocked Macedonia's bid to join NATO during an alliance summit in April, when Balkan states Albania and Croatia were invited to join.

Milososki said Greece had violated a 1995 agreement between the countries, known as an interim accord, that was aimed at improving relations between Greece and the former Yugoslav republic and working toward resolving the name dispute.

"Macedonia has submitted a complaint to ICJ for one reason alone: to protect its rights incorporated into the Interim Accord," he said.

The court, the United Nations' highest judicial organ, confirmed late Monday that Macedonia had filed the case but gave no detail on when it would be heard. The court often takes years before ruling on cases.

In a statement, the court said Macedonia asked it to order Greece "to cease and desist from objecting in any way" to Macedonia joining NATO or any other international organization.

Milososki said Macedonia remains committed to participation in the name talks which are being mediated by the United Nations.

But his country's action drew an angry response from Athens.

Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said Athens would present its case at The Hague with "confidence and determination."

He said Macedonia was "continuing its delaying tactics" at the name negotiations.

Officials from the two countries in the past have confirmed that compromise names that had been raised during the talks have included New Macedonia and North Macedonia.

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